Award Season

2017 Men's Freestyle Matches of the Year

By Eric Olanowski

The top three freestyle matches of 2017 include four Olympic champions who have acquired a combined eight world championships.

97kg World Championship GOLD:  Kyle Frederick SNYDER (USA) v. Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS)
The 97kg world final was arguably the most anticipated match-up of all time. The stage was set for two-time world champion and Olympic champion Kyle SNYDER (USA) to take on two-time world champion and Olympic champion Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS). In addition to the individual title, the winner of the 97kg final determined the team race, as the USA and Russia were tied with 53 points. apiece.

Snyder’s takedown with 25 seconds left sealed the 97kg title, also clinching the United States’ first team title since 1995.

125kg World Championship GOLD:  Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) v. Taha AKGUL (TUR)
In the 125kg world finals, Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) fell behind 4-0 to two-time world champion and Olympic gold medalist Taha AKGUL (TUR). Petriashvili went on to score eight unanswered points and took an 8-4 lead. Akgul regained the lead on criteria by putting together a stretch of four points. Petriashvili’s takedown with 25 seconds left gave him the 10-8 victory and his first world title.

61kg European Championship GOLD: Vladimer KHINCHEGASHVILI (GEO) v. Akhmed CHAKAEV (RUS)
After two scoreless minutes, it was Akhmed CHAKAEV (RUS) who struck first, picking up a monstrous five-point throw. 2016 Olympic champion Vladimer KHINCHEGASHVILI’s (GEO) takedown and gut gave him the first lead of the match. Each wrestler would tack on an additional takedown, ending the match 10-9 in favor of Khinchegashvili.                                                         

Award Season

2017 Women's Freestyle Matches of the Year

By Eric Olanowski

The best women’s wrestling matches of the year included two match-ups that pegged previous age-level and senior world champions against each other. The third match featured an ending with quite the proposal.

53kg World Championships GOLD: Vanesa KALADZINSKAYA (BLR) v. Mayu MUKAIDA (JPN)
Vanesa Kaldzinskaya showed no sign of panicking in the 53kg world finals, even while trailing 6-0. The 2012 world champion used a step out late in the first period to narrow Mukaida’s lead to five points. Her resilience was apparent throughout the match and eventually paid off with 10 seconds remaining as Kaldzinskaya’s four-point move gave her the 8-6 win.

75kg World Championships GOLD: Yasemin ADAR (TUR) v. Vasilisa MARZALIUK (BLR)
After picking up the first takedown, five-time world team member Yasemin Adar trailed on criteria heading into the second period. With under a minute to go, Adar used a late takedown to take the 4-4 lead on criteria. Adar tacked on one more point and won 5-4.

After Adar’s gold medal celebration, her boyfriend came on the mat, dropped to one knee and proposed to Yasemin.

63kg World Championships GOLD: Orkhon PUREVDORJ (MGL) v. Yuliia TKACH OSTAPCHUK (UKR)
In a battle of junior world champions, Orkhon Purevdorj needed three takedowns to defeat Yuliia Tkach Ostapchuk. Purevdorj picked up an early takedown in the first and led 2-1 after three minutes of action. Tkach Ostapchuk answered in the second period with a takedown of her own, but it was Purevdorj’s two second-period takedowns that gave her the 6-3 victory.